She couldn't stop thinking about it.
At the time, it didn't seem like such a big deal. But now , as she lay in her bed staring at the ceiling, one question kept running through her mind. "Why me?"
It just didn't make sense. Earlier that night as Sheldon announced that he had to "let one of them go" she was sure that it was going to be her. But then it wasn't. Why? Her questionnaire wasn't that good. Half of the answers were left blank. Mostly because she didn't understand the questions. And yet he still kept her. Was it because of the gift she gave him at Christmas? That was long enough ago now that she wondered if he still felt he owed her for it.
God, why couldn't she let it go? Maybe if he had given an explanation, but there was nothing. Absolutely nothing. He didn't say one thing to justify why he had chosen her over Raj. Maybe deep down, he was starting to care about her? Maybe he thought more of her then she wanted to believe. She shook her head. No. This was Sheldon Cooper she was talking about. He didn't have feelings. At least not related to other people. There had to be a sound, logical explanation.
With him, there always was. She intended to find out what it was. As far as she was concerned, if she couldn't sleep, he shouldn't be able to either. She got up and fished the spare key Leonard had given her out of the bottom of her purse before quietly making her way across the hall in her bare feet.
She opened the door to her friend's apartment as softly as she could, hoping she wouldn't wake Leonard. It might be hard to explain what she was doing in Sheldon's room since she had given up Age of Conan. Creeping towards Sheldon's room, she thought her heart was beating a little too loud for her liking. She ignored it, quietly announcing herself as she opened his door.
"Sheldon? Are you awake?"
He clearly wasn't. She let herself inside anyways. She stood at the side of his bed for a second, just watching him sleep. He was so non-threatening while he slept. You would never know to look at him that this was the same person that drove her to the edge on insanity on a daily basis.
She smiled in spite of herself. He really could be sweet at times.. In a lot of ways, she thought he was like a child. A freakishly large, child prodigy with 2 PhDs, but a child nonetheless.
Innocent in his ignorance of the world and human relationships.
She frowned. When did she start getting so sentimental about Sheldon, for God's sake? She pushed the thoughts out of her mind and bent down to gently shake him awake.
"Sheldon? Sheldon, wake up!"
He sat up suddenly. "DANGER! DA-"
"Shh! It's just me, Penny!"
Sheldon rubbed at his eyes and looked around the room. Maybe he thought he was dreaming?
"Penny? What time is it?" "I'm actually not-" "And more importantly, why are you in my room? I told you, people can't be in my-" "Look, if you want me in here when you're sick, to take care of you? You have to let me in here at other times too. It can't just be when it's convenient for you. That isn't how friendship works, honey." Sheldon looked a little surprised, but didn't say anything.
She took the silence as her chance to say something about what had happened earlier that night. "Listen, Sheldon. I need to ask you something. It's been bothering me, and I really need you to give me an answer, alright?" Sheldon nodded, staring at her blankly. She hated that.
"Well, alright, but I'm sure whatever female problem you're having would be better suited to someone like Leonard. I hardly know the first thing about these sorts of things, to be completely honest. On the other hand, if you happen to have a ques-"
"Sheldon, sweetie, please stop talking." Penny pleaded with him.
And to her surprise, he listened. He looked up at her, waiting for her to speak.
"Why didn't you get rid of me?" Her heart felt like it was in her throat. Why was she so nervous? Sheldon would probably tell her that being suffocated by one's own heart was physiologically impossible, but it certainly felt like it was happening right now.
"That's all you wanted to ask me? Oh, Penny. I thought it was fairly obvious. You're my only female friend. You provide me with insight I can't find anywhere else."
He smiled his little half smile at her and she felt her heart sink. What did she expect him to say? That he was in love with her? She was being ridiculous and she hated herself for it. This was SHELDON. She needed to keep reminding herself of that until it sunk in.
"Oh." That was all she could manage. Did her voice just break? Shit! Sheldon looked confused. He really was adorable sometimes. Oh God. Did she really just think that?
"Did something I said upset you? If so, I apologize."
She smiled, knowing it probably took a lot of effort for him to do that. He was getting better at acting like a regular human being, and she was happy for him.
Sitting down on the side of his bed, she noticed he froze slightly. He probably wasn't used to having other people on his bed, let alone a girl. But he still didn't say anything.
"No, honestly, it's my fault. I guess for once I hoped you might have something nice to say about me. But it's fine, it's really no big deal."
Sheldon frowned. Finally he spoke.
"Well, obviously it IS a big deal, or else you wouldn't be trying to pretend that you aren't upset."
Penny wasn't really sure what to say to that. Maybe she wasn't as great of an actress as she thought. Was it really that obvious? Sheldon wasn't usually the best at reading emotions.
"In any case, I wouldn't be friends with you in the first place if I didn't like you to some degree, now would I?"
He said it as if he were stating a scientific fact. He began looking everywhere but directly at her, obviously feeling uncomfortable. Penny leaned over and wrapped her arms around him, not caring whether he wanted it or not. Oddly enough, that was one of the nicest things anyone had ever said to her. And she knew he wouldn't have said it if he didn't mean it.
He artlessly raised his hand and rested it on her shoulder, obviously unsure if this was the correct thing to do. She smiled against him and wondered why she was so happy right now.
"Sheldon, honey, I love you so much. You know that, right?"
She pulled back to look at him. He quickly looked around the room as if to see if anyone else was there before looking back at her with the same blank, curious look he always had.
"...Me?" "Well, you iare/i the only Sheldon I know."
He sat there, deep in thought, and she started wondered what was going through his head when he started to speak.
"Well, this is quite a development. Do you expect coitus to take place? I'm not entirely sure what usually happens in-" "Sweetie, no, you don't have to worry about that. I meant that I love you as a friend."
Why did it feel so wrong when she said that?
"Oh..." Sheldon furrowed his brow, frowning slightly. "Well you could have made that clear before I suggested coitus."
Was it possible he was disappointed? There was no way. She couldn't help laughing.
"I'm glad you find my discomfort amusing, Penny."
"No, it's just that, I never took you as someone who would be interested in sex, that's all."
"Well, I suppose I've never really thought about it. Relationships aren't exactly high on my list of priorities. I usually have much more important things on my mind."
Penny rolled her eyes, and smiled. "Yeah, I know. Like Halo."
Sheldon ignored her comment and continued. "In any case, aren't you supposed to love someone before entering into a relationship? I've never loved anyone as far as I know. Except my mother, of then again, I'm not sure how one might define-"
"But you offered to have sex with me, just now." She put her hand on the side of his face. It felt warm and she wondered if he was getting embarrassed. She smiled softly at him.
"I most certainly did not! I was merely curious as to what people did after one of them professes feelings for another."
Penny leaned into him. She could feel his heart beating through his shirt. He continued talking, clearly trying to ignore the close contact, but not doing a very good job. His voice was shaky and hurried and he stared at the ceiling while he spoke.
"And while I'm not sure if I've ever loved anyone, seeing as how it's such an obscure term, I'm certain that if I were to feel that way about anyone, it would be you."
Nothing could describe how loved she felt in that moment. Even if he insisted otherwise, she could see it. No words would suffice.
So she kissed him instead.